2 PhD positions Resourceful Communities (RECOMS) training network (1,0 fte), Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), Social Sciences Unit


The Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) is a Flemish Scientific Institute. As such, it belongs to the Flemish Government's Agriculture and Fisheries Policy Area. As a leading governmental research institute we conduct fundamental, policy-supportive and practice-oriented scientific research. ILVO is inspired by the values of professionalism, being pro-active, cooperation, positivism and being an example.

The ILVO - Social Sciences Unit aims to present and clarify, on a scientific basis, societal choices concerning a sustainable future for agriculture, fisheries, food and countryside. Our scientists have expertise in various disciplines including agronomy, sociology, ecology, geography, political sciences and agricultural economics. This allows us to approach our research objects in a unique way by using a diversity of theoretical and methodological frameworks and both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Our research interests lie in both rural development and agricultural and farm development.

The RECOMS training network

The Early Stage Researcher fellows (ESR) will be involved in the project RECOMS: a Marie Sklodowska Curie (MSCA) Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission (2018-2022). RECOMS is comprised of a transdisciplinary consortium of scientists, practitioners and change agents from eleven public, private and non-profit organisations, located in six European Union countries: Austria, Belgium, England, Finland, Germany and The Netherlands. The purpose of RECOMS is to train 15 ESRs in innovative, transdisciplinary and transformative approaches to promoting and facilitating resourceful and resilient community environmental practice.


Applicants need to respect the following criteria:

  • Applicants MUST – at the start date of the employment contract [1st September 2018] – be an ‘early stage researcher’: they must be in the first four years of their research career and NOT have a doctoral degree.
  • Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks are a mobility scheme. Researchers are required to undertake transnational mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up the appointment. At the time of selection by the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO) researchers must not have resided our carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
  • ESR must demonstrate excellent English language proficiency both orally and in writing to derive the full benefit from the network training. An IELTS English language test may be required. They should understand the aims, rules and procedures of MSCA Innovative Training Networks.
  • MA/MSc degree in the wider field of sociology, political sciences, spatial planning, geography, policy administration or social sciences.

Conditions of employment

Benefits and salary

EV-ILVO offers you a full-time contract equivalent to the net amount of the income of a scientific worker (A165, unmarried, no dependents) of EV ILVO (including a holiday bonus and end-of-year bonus). In the beginning (first 2 years) the salary totals € 2.484,67 gross/month. Additional benefits include 35 days of paid vacation, free hospitalization insurance, meal checks, and compensation for commuting with public transport or bike. The 3rd year the salary amounts to € 2.587,58 gross/month.

In addition to individual scientific projects, all fellows will benefit from research collaboration within the RECOMS network, extensive joint training opportunities, and collaboration with non-academic organizations.

Job descriptions

The recruited ESR fellows will be engaged in a series of collaborative research and training activities and will be supported in pursuing a doctoral study project. If you are highly motivated; inspired by learning and undertaking innovative research, thinking and knowledge exchange across disciplines, institutional boundaries and wider society; and wish to be part of an advanced, international, network of creative change agents specialising in resourceful and resilient community environmental practice; then one of these ESR vacancies could be the ideal appointment for you.

Co-supervised by academic and non-academic partners, the RECOMS ESR will be encouraged to critically, practically, and creatively explore the contribution and relationships between their individual doctoral study projects across three interconnecting research themes:

  • Empowering and unlocking the potential of vulnerable communities to become more resourceful
  • Strengthening the adaptive and transformative capacity of local groups through resourceful environmental practice as critical to building community resilience
  • Encouraging a more just and inclusive approach to stimulating community resourcefulness by nurturing broader participation in resourceful environmental practices.

A core feature of the RECOMS programme - both with respect to informing the design and delivery of all the training, as well as enabling and maximising opportunities for knowledge exchange through research and associated outputs - will be the incorporation of a broad range of visual and creative research methods and modes of communication.

The following positions are now open for application:

Research projects hosted by Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research (ILVO), Social Sciences Unit in Belgium

Additional qualifications for these PhD positions

  • Proven skills in the field of the specific ESR position.
  • Conceptual capacity and abstract reasoning. 
  • Skills in communication and presentation.
  • A strong affinity with the RECOMS topic, motivated to practice multi- and transdisciplinary forms of research inquiry and wishing to gain a broad and advanced range of scientific and professional skills. 
  • Be willing to engage in participatory and action-learning based forms of research, training and knowledge exchange. 
  • Working collaboratively with the other RECOMS ESR fellows, and individually through their doctoral research projects, they should be enthusiastic towards exploring and experimenting with visual and creative methods and modes of communication. 
  • In accordance with the aims of MSCA-ITNs, and the research, secondment and training schedule of RECOMS, ESR Fellows should be prepared and available to travel to other countries (primarily within the EU) at regular intervals during their contract of employment.
  • Preferred qualifications for candidates include excellent grades, research talent (as proven by the master thesis, publications, participation in research projects) and personal ambition.

Starting date: September 1, 2018.

How to apply

You may apply for this position until 1st March 23:59h 2018 Belgian local time. Please submit your application in English.

Applicants are requested to send a full CV and motivation letter for one or more positions and the names of two referees (to be called upon should you be shortlisted). An application must contain proof of eligibility as an annex where relevant, including a) proof that you have no more experience than 4 years as a researcher, b) proof that you did not spend more than 12 months in the last 3 years in Belgium, and c) proof of English language proficiency, in case you are shortlisted and invited to do so. All documents should be send to Joost.Dessein@ilvo.vlaanderen.be.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview during April/May 2018. Further information will be provided at the point of announcement of short-listing. By submitting an application, the candidate confirms agreement to share his/her application with the Selection Committee and the RECOMS coordinator. If you are shortlisted for interview, please note the interview panel will consist of the host and non-host institution RECOMS partners. Your application will be available to all panel members from submission for the purpose of assessing your suitability for the post.

If interested in more than one position, you may apply for multiple positions of interest (max 3). Multiple applications will not influence the selection chance in any particular project. Please mention on every application all ESR projects to which an application is submitted.


For general information on these positions you can contact:

Prof. dr. Joost Dessein, Joost.Dessein@ilvo.vlaanderen.be.

For further information on the specific positions, please contact the supervisors of the corresponding doctoral research projects:

More information can also be found via the following links: